With the assistance of State Conciliator Bob Nightingale, negotiations between the Port of Portland and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), Local 28, which represents the 25-member security force for the Port’s marine terminals, ended with a tentative contract agreement today averting a strike that would have shut down the Port’s marine terminals 2, 4 and 6.
Next steps in the process will include a union vote to ratify the agreement after which the Port Commission will formally review and approve the new contract.
“We are very pleased that an agreement was reached,” said Port Executive Director Bill Wyatt. “The Port feels its contract proposal was not only fair but generous.”
At the heart of today’s negotiations were assurances by the Port that the Local 28 personnel will continue to perform their current duties regardless of changes in agreements with Terminal 2, 4 and 6 lessees for the duration of the Local 28 contract which runs from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015.
“The goal throughout the negotiations was to ensure a fair contract for our workers and minimize impacts to our customers,” said Wyatt. “Our job is to make it as easy as possible for shipping lines to call here and for area businesses to get products to market. If something like a labor dispute complicates calling here, shipping lines may choose to eliminate their Portland calls and then it is very difficult to get them back.”
However, the length of the negotiations as well as issues earlier this summer between the ILWU and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have already taken an economic toll. As one recent example, Honda diverted a Portland-bound ship carrying 2,000 cars to Richmond, Calif. The Port estimates that there is a $271.50 impact to the local economy for every vehicle that comes across the Port’s docks. The Honda vessel skipping Portland had a negative impact to the local economy of more than a half a million dollars.
More than 1,000 Oregon and Washington businesses use Port of Portland Marine Terminal 6 to get their goods to and from international markets, including a number of inland agricultural exporters. When Portland isn’t a shipping option, companies must use other ports outside of Oregon, often at a steep premium.
Portland and Oregon are highly trade dependent—Oregon is the ninth most trade dependent state in the nation. Port marine operations at its four terminals (including Terminal 5) generated more than 9,000 jobs, more than $750 million in personal income, more than $803 million in business revenue, and more than $72 million in state and local taxes in 2011.
Port Terminal 6 is a container and breakbulk facility operated under lease by ICTSI Oregon, Inc. with service from seven carriers and inland barge service, handling containers, autos and breakbulk cargo. Terminal 4 handles a variety of cargo including autos, soda ash and liquid bulks, and Terminal 2 handles breakbulk and bulk cargo and serves as the base for the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ two dredges used to maintain the navigation channel.